Facebook has become the largest social platform on the web. With 1.2 billion unique users and almost 700 million of those users actively using the site every day, it's undeniably important to promote your business with that kind of audience exposure. But just as Google and other search engines use algorithms for presenting information, Facebook has an algorithm they use to show posts on users' news feeds. Once you grow your following and have an audience, how do you make sure you get on their news feeds? Watch today's Daily Brown Bag to learn about the Facebook audience, Facebook's latest algorithm, and how to make sure your posts are showing up on your followers' news feeds.


Hello, and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today we’re going to be talking about the new Facebook algorithm and why people see or don’t see posts that you make. I’m Chad Hill, and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Good morning, Chad. Yeah, we’re diving today into social media, specifically Facebook. There’s been a big push from a lot of businesses to have strong Facebook engagement, and I think one of the great frustrations of Facebook is getting your posts seen by the community that you spend a lot of time to build. Sometimes, businesses feel like no matter how many likes they have for their pages, their posts are only seen by a small portion of people, so the exposure is limited. They’re always asking us how they can be better and have a stronger impact. So first let’s look at a few stats.

There are 1.26 billion Facebook users (yes, that’s billion with a “b”). Six-hundred ninety-nine million of them are active daily users which is really mind-boggling. About 128 million of them are in the U.S. So, that’s still a very, very large audience. There are over 15 million businesses, though, who have Facebook pages and are trying to get in front of those 128 million daily U.S. users. Now, Facebook users tend to spend about 40% of their time in their news feeds, and it’s important to understand their behaviors and where they are. But, news feeds can be very crowded. A typical user, this is an interesting stat from Facebook, has about 1500 stories that could show in their news feed on any given visit. But, usually only about 300 of them show up. So, I think the discussion point here for companies trying to gain exposure is how Facebook is deciding which 300 of the 1500 possible pieces of content in the news feed to show the user. There’s obviously an algorithm here. What are some of the things that you should be doing as an advertiser to make your outreach stronger and be found?

Yeah, that’s a great question and it definitely is a confusing one as you start to think about this. We’re going to walk through some of the factors that go into what’s shown and what’s not. But first of all, this is sort of a mind-boggling stat. The research that we have shows that Facebook says there’s over 100,000 different factors that go into the algorithm that determines what shows in your news feed, so that’s a lot of stuff. But, here are the most important ones. The first one is the user’s relationship with your page. So, the more interaction they’ve had with your page, the more likely you are to show up in their feed.

One of the factors that was specifically identified was the idea of what they’re calling a “last actor.” So, if someone has recently interacted with your page or your information, then the future feed will be more heavily weighted to your last actions, so that’s something to think about. Obviously, if you’re not putting up good content and people aren’t interacting with it, the chances of your stuff being shown is much lower.

The second one is really type of post, so what we’ve seen is that things like image posts get a 40% higher interaction rate than a simple text post or status update that is text only. So, making sure that you’re putting your best foot forward is important. People love images, and those tend to get more interaction. But, it is important to say that if people are interacting more with another type of format that you’re putting out there, like if your text posts are just super great and you’re getting more interaction there, then that’s actually going to be what shows up. So, what are people interacting with?

The last one is the age of the post, so of course Facebook really wants to keep things as fresh as possible and newer stuff is going to be showing up, with the exception of the idea of story-bumping. So, there are some cases where a post that’s getting a lot of interaction, even if it’s a little older, will be bumped up in your news feed. So, even if it’s a few hours old, when you come back to Facebook, a post that was highly interacted with will end up actually bumping out some more new stuff that isn’t getting as much interaction. So, those are three of the main factors that we know of that let you know what content is showing up and what’s not.

Yeah, and it’s fun to be talking about an algorithm online that’s not based on backlinks, Chad, I think for a change. As I think through these elements here, it doesn’t strike me that these are particularly gameable, unlike the discussion that we have with Google. You know, what’s white hat and what’s grey hat and what you shouldn’t do, what Google says they don’t like, and there’s a constant PR war. Here, Facebook is evolving their algorithm, obviously much like Google does, but Facebook really wants to populate the users’ news feeds with content that’s very high quality, relevant to them, and they’ve also stressed that is useful and timely. You’ve outlined the behavioral anchors that they’re using to drive that: your relationship with the page, the type of post, and the age of the post, and this idea that interaction is really key, so I think this one comes down to really getting creative, being authentic, and being on top of your specific category so that the information you have is timely. What’s interesting there, Chad, is that isn’t very different from what we say in search engine optimization. It’s the same prescription, right?

I was thinking the same thing. We talk about REAL SEO a lot, and this is real social. This is just really real marketing, and it’s trying to think about what your end user is going to be interested in reading, because as we know, if there’s this sea of potential content someone can see at a given time, 1500 on average news feed items that someone can see, and you’re only going to see 300, you need to think about how you’re going to cut through the clutter to the top. What it really comes down to is what you said, Adam. It comes down to making sure that your posts are timely and relevant, we’ve talked all about newsjacking which is critically important here, building credibility with your audience so that they do interact with you more often and you get that anchor or that weight that’s going to make your post more likely to be shown in the feed, and basically asking yourself, “If sharing and interacting is the key thing, is the content I’m putting out shareable and useful? Is it really promoting my product, or is it something that’s interesting that would make someone say, ‘Hey, check out this great piece of content!’?” So, really interesting stuff, Adam.

Yeah, we see a lot of commonalities here with content marketing which we talk about all the time as important in search engine optimization gaining ground at Facebook with a form of real marketing, real PR, engaging, being creative, and spreading something of value. We’d like to hear your thoughts. Have you been particularly successful on Facebook, particularly promoting a business page? Our internet marketers are always interested in that. Share a story with us, and we’ll put a comment back, and we also would very much appreciate it if you subscribe to our YouTube channel.